Freddy Garcia had seven innings of shut out ball in his arm tonight, but in his last inning of work, a foul bunt nicked a pebble and grazed the outside of the bag to become a base hit. Later in the inning, Eduardo Nunez booted a tough-ish chance. So with two out and two on in the seventh, Girardi called on lefty Boone Logan to face Casey “The Eagle” Kotchman, who was three for three against Garcia and represented the go-ahead run. (In the game thread Alex Belth wondered when he turned into George Brett.)
Logan ran into terrible luck last night when Curtis Granderson lost the ball in roof. Then he knifed himself by rushing an easy double play into an error. I was worried he’d still be reeling. Logan started out ahead, but Kotchman refused to bite on an excellent 2-2 pitch and the count ran full. Logan dug deep and fired. The Eagle hacked away, but Logan blew it past him for strike three. He was pumped and so was I watching at home.
Great call by Girardi to get Logan back out there, that type of confidence-building outing can go a long way in the hot summer. That was the most important out of the game and the Rays last real chance at a comeback.
The game started off with a bang as Derek Jeter met his new business partner David Price. As Jeter singled, I wondered if maybe Price should have stuck one in his ribs instead. It would be smart business, they don’t want to appear too chummy. Granderson, batting second as usual, jumped on a low fastball and yanked it deep into the right field seats. I love when the Yanks score runs before making any outs.
Later in the first, Russell Martin made a bid for a two-run homer of his own, but it was caught just a few feet short of the centerfield wall. With Price on the mound, I had a feeling that might be it for scoring chances for awhile.
Freddy Garcia was good, but he courted danger fairly often. It was thickest in the fifth when Evan Longoria hit what I feared was a two-out, three-run homer to center. But Granderson tracked it down at breakneck speed and speared it just before crashing into the wall. Nice play.
David Robertson picked up for Logan in the eighth and retired the Rays in order with two whiffs, just as he did on Monday night. The Rays might actually be relieved to see Mariano enter the game just so they can wave goodbye to Robertson. We haven’t seen that since Joba in 2007, and really no other time that I can remember.
The Yankees tacked on two runs on two walks and a two-out
bloop clutch knock by Eduardo Nunez. That made Mariano’s appearance pleasure without anxiety. Mariano had an excellent year in 2010. He had an excellent first half in 2011. But damn, if he doesn’t look dialed in for these last few outings. Watching him and Robertson lately, you understand how a manager develops crutches in the bullpen.
The final score was 4-0, and the bullpen was sublime, striking out five of the seven batters they faced and retiring them all in order.
A pessimist bails at the first sign of trouble. When three-fifths of the rotation started the second half with clunkers, I was worried their luck had run out. It didn’t help that it was the three guys we had the most questions about. But as is often the case, the actual results don’t fit the clean trajectory we trace for them. Freddy Garcia followed Bartolo Colon with a good start reminding us that their first-half effectiveness probably won’t evaporate instantaneously.